THE SLOVAK non-governmental organisation the Center for Civil and Human Rights has received a French annual award, Freedom, Equality, Fraternity (Liberté - Egalité – Fraternité), for its activities in the area of human rights protection. The Košice-based organisation is the first from the former communist countries of Europe to be awarded this prize, the SITA newswire reported on December 11.
“[The centre’s] brave and determined actions in favour of Roma women sterilised without their informed consent and its protection of minorities and fight against discrimination entitle it to get this award as the very first Slovak NGO,” said French Ambassador to Slovakia Jean-Marie Bruno, as quoted in an official press release.
The ceremony took place in Paris on December 11, marking the International Day of Human Rights. The centre was represented by lawyer Vanda Durbáková, who stressed that though it is not the award that motivates their activities, the centre really appreciates the recognition.
She added that it would encourage them to continue “protecting the rights of those who face discrimination and violation of human rights in Slovakia”.
“This award is symbolic for us since it comes at a time when, after 10 years of fighting against forced sterilisations, the European Court of Human Rights finally convicted Slovakia for this practice and reimbursed some Roma women,” Durbáková stressed. “These rulings represent hope, for us and many forcibly sterilised Roma women, that the Slovak government will finally pay the necessary attention to this whole issue.”
Most recently, the NGO was successful with a case at the ECHR, which ruled on November 13 that several medical employees in Slovakia violated Roma women’s right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment and their right to a private and family life.
The ruling upheld allegations by three women, identified only as I.G., M.K. and R.H., that they had been forcibly sterilised in the gynaecology and obstetrics department of Krompachy Hospital, in eastern Slovakia between 1999 and 2002, which at the time of the incidents in question was run by the Health Ministry.